might have perished " during some long drawn out transportation on the
railway/' or, knowing the conditions, " during evacuation by river and sea
routes.95 In January, 1942, Eve Curie cautiously wrote, while in
" It seemed impossible to find any trace of these men in the whole of
Russia, and the Soviet bureaucrats were perhaps sincere when they said
with apparent helplessness,, eWe simply don't know where they are.'
They had lost those men. In the general confusion of war they had lost
five thousand men, as one loses a needle in a haystack."
Eve Curie tried to find some logical explanation of this mystery, but
she had made an error of time in her reasoning. Those people
had been lost, not " in the confusion of war," but before the war had
begun for Russia itself. The Polish Government had asked for the
release of those men during the first days of August, 1941^ and at that
time the camps where they had been in 1940, were still far from the front
In addition to these officers there were many other Poles who could not
be accounted for—among them a great number of politicians, particularly
Socialists belonging to the Polish Socialist Party (P.P.S.) and the Jewish
c Bund.' Some of these had died in the prisons, and as it was soon to be
discovered, many had been executed.*
After Stalin's purge, the death sentence in the Soviet Union was
officially changed to that ofe transportation for life to the labour camps.5
Any execution, therefore, was carried out in secret and reserved only for
the most eminent among the enemies of Communism. This was an
integral part of their system and not a political error committed during a
* President of the Labour and Socialist International Camille Huysmans, in his
speech at the meeting to commemorate the death of Alter and Erlich on March 28th,
1942, in. London, gave a long list of members of the Polish Socialist Party, the
Ukrainian Socialist Party, and the * Bund/ all Polish citizens, who had died while
in Soviet prisons.
" To this list," he said, " I must add the names of the leading members of the
* Bund': Anna Rozental, aged over sixty, member of the Central Committee
of the Bund. She had previously spent ten years in Tsarist prisons in Siberia,
and was arrested in Wilno at the end of 1939 by the Soviet authorities, together
with all the other members of the local Bund Committee. In Summer, 1941, she
was shot without trial, during the evacuation of political prisoners 5 David Batist,
Trade Unionist and member of the General Council of the Bund, was arrested in
Eastern Poland in October, 1939, and was kept in labour camps for over two
years—he died of exhaustion.
" Finally, over two hundred members of the local Bund Committee and Jewish
Trade Unions of the towns of Eastern Poland were arrested by the Soviet authorities
immediately after the Red Army occupied these towns. The fate of these com-
rades is unknown. The majority of them are probably no longer alive.
" These are the facts and, I ask you, have we the right to voice our indignation
and protest here. I know we are placed in a difficult position. If we protest we
shall be accused in certain quarters of trying to disrupt the Allied front, that we do
not, consider the great part played by the Russian Army in our common fight for
liberation. If we do not protest, we must regard ourselves as cowards and as
traitors to our friends' sacred memory.
" . . . We shall not hesitate one moment. We are no cowards , , ,"